Do we understand the concept of learning?

Many students continue with their quest for knowledge even after the customary stages of education, taking on further learning for that purpose.
Students require a solid learning approach. / File photo
Students require a solid learning approach. / File photo

Many students continue with their quest for knowledge even after the customary stages of education, taking on further learning for that purpose.

All over the world, institutions of learning have age groups for learners, with a standard age at which one is fit to begin school.

After teaching for many years and working with many scholars, both at secondary and university level, with emphasis on what should be covered at what age, I wonder if we really understand the meaning of “learning”.

Learning is something that starts from infanthood.

Many might take time to actually understand what learning entails, but if we want to accord meaning to our education and achieve top quality, it is important that we understand the concept.

Many have a general sense of what it means to learn, however, there are some theories involved.

Sometimes teachers assume that because they are teaching, students are learning, the same way students assume that since they have read the notes given to them by the teacher and have memorised or crammed what is necessary, they have learned something.

In previous years, a lot of research has been geared towards understanding the brain, and learning in general, and findings indicated a significant implication towards instructors’ teaching and students’ learning.

There are also questions surrounding contemporary learning, as opposed to traditional, that is believed to have changed the concept of education and has subjected students to ‘passive learning’ which is said to deprive students of a chance to compete in the innovative world.

Dr Tanga Odoi once said, “Academic and intellectual injustices will not stop if teachers and those in the making and the curriculum developers are not ready to amend the instructional methods that will make students understand their vital role in the learning process”.

Research indicates that America, a country that is regarded as the forerunner of quality education in the world, has more than 50 per cent of high school graduates going off to college, and each year, universities and colleges enrol thousands of students from other countries as well.

However, in the face of these statistics, several studies show that many college students have neither general knowledge nor the necessary skills to reason accordingly in today’s society.

This reminds me of a friend who said he would rather home-school his toddler than stress him with school at a young age, and his justifications were clear. He will be able to teach his boy the dynamics of society at a young age and get him ready to face the world when he eventually joins school.

Many concerns can be raised about the concept of learning, however, educationists, researchers, and policy makers must focus on saving our education from taking a wrong turn.

Today’s education needs to be adjusted and repaired, there is need to shift our system from mere teaching to actual learning.

When it comes to higher institutions of learning, faculty roles must be altered. The primary role of the teacher should be to facilitate the process of knowledge, not to pass on knowledge just for the sake of coverage.

We need to help students develop their own intellectual artillery and learning approach, and in the end, we will be safe from intellectual aloofness.

Let us nurture critical thinkers as well as problem solvers, because only then will we be truly proud of our education system.

The write is a PhD student of Comparative Education and leadership at Beijing Normal University